Advertorial – Due to its remote location, difficulty of access and ice-dominated nature, Antarctica has always been a place that only a few people have had the opportunity to visit. Recently, however, modern comfortable ships equipped with small landing craft have made it easy for almost anyone to step onto the southernmost continent. Most tours depart from Punta Arenas at the southern tip of Chile on the Strait of Magellan. With a population of about 125,000, this southern Patagonian city features a main square lined with trees and beautiful European-style buildings.
The best time to visit Antarctica is during our winter. As the weather was fair, we had the opportunity to go ashore at Cape Horn. From there, the two day journey across the Drake Passage began. We couldn’t help but think of the small wooden vessels that made the initial voyage. Whales and albatross could be sighted along the way. The first glimpse of land was King George Island, home to five research stations. Moving deeper into the Antarctic we made our way through the Gerlache Strait for a landing at Damoy Point. The seas here are normally very calm and temperatures relatively warm – ranging from -1 to +4 degrees C. High mountain peaks tower above the enormous glaciers as we passed icebergs the size of small apartment buildings. That was quite an impressive sight!
Whales, seals and birds are abundant in these waters, and of course, a variety of penguins. At each of our daily landings, we had a chance to go ashore and walk close to nesting penguins while other travellers took to the zodiacs in search of wildlife amongst the icebergs. At certain places we could choose to try kayaking or to walk up part of a glacier on snowshoes. There was even a chance to visit one or more research stations where we could talk to members of that country’s team. We feel very fortunate to have had a chat with experts that gave us a better insight of this part of the world.
The scenery became more dramatic as we headed into the Lemaire Channel. This narrow passage is known for the contrast between soaring cliffs and glacier tongues that spill into the clear blue sea. Deception Island is the place where some hearty individuals chose to take a dip in Antarctic waters. Along the beach of this former volcano we could see puffs of steam rising from the sands. It was definitely a unique sight we haven’t experienced anywhere else, and we’ve been to many countries!
If you yearn for a real adventure, consider making Antarctica your next destination. Picture yourself here with the awe-inspiring scenery and incredible wildlife. It is life changing.
Jon and Sue Gurr escorted this fascinating expedition cruise in 2017 on behalf of Craig Travel. If like them, you would like to experience the beauty of the Great White Continent, contact Craig Travel at 1.800.387.8890 and join our 2021 Antarctic cruise.
January 2021 is certainly a long time away but with early travel decisions come great savings! Book your cabin and deposit before November 29, 2019 and save up to $4,860 per person!
Photos courtesy of Jon Gurr